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MANILA, Philippines – Jojo Lastimosa stands on the cusp of not only winning his first PBA championship as head coach but also beating his former mentor Tim Cone.
Lastimosa and TNT own a precious 3-2 lead in the PBA Governors’ Cup finals and they look to finish off Cone and Barangay Ginebra in Game 6 at the Araneta Coliseum on Friday, April 21.
“[I]t would be an accomplishment. I would be honored to be beat him if I can in this series,” said Lastimosa, who played under Cone for the dynastic Alaska Aces in the 1990s.
With Lastimosa calling the shots, the Tropang Giga sent the Gin Kings to uncharted territory as they completed a 104-95 win in Game 5 for their first lead of the series.
The defeat marked the first time since Cone took over the coaching reins that Ginebra lost a Game 5 after a 2-2 tie in a PBA finals – a blow mainly caused by a food poisoning incident that hit import Justin Brownlee.
Brownlee left Game 5 in the third quarter and never returned as the Gin Kings frittered away a 15-point advantage.
Lastimosa, though, knows Cone has plenty of tricks up his sleeve.
“He has a secrets that I don’t know,” said Lastimosa, who also served as an assistant to Cone at Alaska. “The last time I was with him was 2011. So it has been a while. He might have picked up some plays here and there.”
“A lot of things can happen. Closeout games are really, really hard.”
Gaining a 3-2 lead hardly gave TNT any comfort as the Tropang Giga were in the exact same situation earlier this season only to witness their dreams crushed.
TNT went up 3-2 against San Miguel in the Philippine Cup finals but failed to get the job done, dropping the last two games of the best-of-seven series.
“I wish I can flip the script, but it’s easier said than done going up against Ginebra, especially going up against Tim, going up against Brownlee,” said Lastimosa.
“They’re still the favorites. Even if we’re up 3-2, we’re not complacent. We know how hard it takes to win over them.” – Rappler.com